Nothing was more frustrating to me than talking to people who weren't Christians and them saying to me, "Well, I've read the Bible and..." It wasn't because of them. No. It was because I was 24 and I claimed to love Jesus and I had never read it all the way through. It's dumbfounding really. If anyone else devotes themselves to a religion and hasn't read the book upon which it was based, we would say that they were misguided or going into it blindly.
I decided to change that in February. I read through the whole Bible last month. It was challenging. But really, it was totally invigorating. Another great thing I can say about turning 24 is that I read the Bible all the way through and it changed my perspective on my faith.
First of all, I didn't realize the main themes of the Bible. I used to just think of it as a collection of do's and don'ts and a smattering of stories about very good and very bad people. It has that too, but they are just all so darn connected to each other.
I spent the first three weeks in the Old Testament. I do not recommend taking this long in the OT. I recommend absolutely reading it as fast as you can. If you think to yourself, "What did I just read?" just shrug your shoulders and go on. The OT is great for that because it repeats the same ideas a lot. Sacrifice a lot. The Israelites disappoint God. They get the snot beaten out of them. They cry to God. God saves them because He loves all these weirdos. They disappoint him again. More sacrifices. And so on.
By the time I got through dragging through the OT, I didn't know if I would ever make it. Everyone was so sad all the time. But then Jesus enters the scene so seamlessly. And having spent 1200 pages reading God speaking, I recognized for the first time how much He was God. They are the same in speech and in love and in wrath. It's so staggering.
What I can't get past, though, is the tearing of the temple curtain. I didn't realize how much I had learned from the OT until I got to this in the gospel of Matthew. You can try to understand the meaning of this all you want, but until you have spent three weeks reading straight through laws and sacrifices and guidelines for purity, you can't. The Israelites, and the rest of us even more so, were so seperate from God. They couldn't look at Him, only a select few could even really offer sacrifices and even then only in a certain place and in a certain way.
That curtain tearing was the moment of victory for us. Jesus' victory over the grave comes later, but we were victorious the moment Jesus died. And I've heard that said to me, but it took reading through the Bible as quickly as I could to really understand it. I cried when I read it in Matthew. Then I cried again when I read it in Mark. And I was disappointed that it wasn't in Luke or John.
If you are a Christian, you really really should make sure you read through the Bible. Maybe not in a month, but I would encourage you to push yourself to make it in less than a year. It is worth it.
P.S. Kelli (my running friend) and I started walking this morning to try to shake off the winter laziness. It was great and we are on our way to training for some kind of marathon. :)